Friday, June 24, 2016

Madi's Moving

The frustration in not getting detail I liked from the lilies I posted in my last blog grew after publishing the post.  Over the years I've wanted to get looser in my strokes only to find that I would always gravitate toward trying to get the detail right.  The day after that post I thought I would try to paint a quick study of my son’s dog Madi.  The goal was loose brush strokes and getting her color right.  As I painted, I became more & more frustrated with the quality of my work.  I decided then that I wanted a good quality painting of Madi....by the end of the month she was going to be moving with the rest of her family to another state.

Madi’s move means that my son, his wife & children are moving.  I've always felt so blessed that my first grandchildren were living in town.  Frequent visits, sleepovers & babysitting were like the perfect drug for alleviating the frustrations I get from my health issues.  It’s going to be hard being in Tucson without all of them.  I will have more time to paint but ...... I would rather they stay. 

Back to the painting....  My tremor isn't that bad on most days.  I do have to wipe away strokes as I go & work a little harder to get them right but I think it will be worth it to keep going with detail until I just don’t want to anymore.  On days that the tremor is bad, I’ll just do something else besides paint. 

It took a week to get Madi’s painting done.  There are a few things I would like to touch up on her but I have to leave it for now.  I was only able to work on it a little at a time because we've been helping get ready for the move.  Brain fatigue happens not just with physical activity but also mental activity.  It can be problem solving, conversing with others or emotional stress (both positive and negative) that leaves people with brain injuries fatigued. The only thing that works once the fatigue sets in is rest.   

This ends the self imposed challenge to do a painting everyday for the month of June.  On Monday we leave to help with the move so I'll be away from my studio for the rest of the month.  I follow a few daily painters & always thought it would be a fun thing to try & it was, but it's not for me.  It leaves little time in a day to work on my larger paintings.

Wishing all of you a Happy 4th & thank you for reading my blog. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Daily Painting = Daily Changes

Distractions change the journey - the direction shifts and the journey evolves.  On the 8th day of my challenge I bought a beautiful bouquet of lilies.  I thought I would paint one flower from the bouquet each day until they were all dead.  The first day, as much as I liked painting the flower, I wasn't happy with the result so I wiped it off.  The next day I decided to paint the whole bouquet.

I have a tremor that makes fine detail work difficult.  My mahl stick doesn't help because the shaking is in my fingers.  It's a distraction.  As difficult as it is, I keep going and after the second day this was the result.  I see the shaking from my fingers in the attempts to get the detail of the flowers.  But for some reason, I like it.  At least I like it enough to share it here.

I've had the tremor for quite awhile and my neurologist believes that it is probably due to genetics and not the tumor.  I agree with her since my mother had tremors.  They used to be occasional but have become more noticeable when I paint so I googled "painting with tremors."  I'm not alone.  There are a few things I can try but they aren't going to go away & I'm not sure I want to increase any of my medications. 

I've always liked painting fine detail - mostly because I could.  Getting the details in an eye or flower was challenging and I was proud of my ability to pull it off, but it isn't something that drives my creative energy.  There are worse things & hell, I survived a brain infection so I'm not going to let a tremor get in the way of my creativity.  I let the painting sit for a couple of days & did a little touch up.  I still like it so I took it to my photographer yesterday to get a better pic.

Tomorrow I'm going to paint in spite of the tremor & instead of trying so hard to control & correct it, we'll just see what happens.  Stay tuned............. :)

In my search about Essential Tremors I found a very interesting TED talk:
           Embrace the Shake by Phil Hansen

Thank you for your time!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Day 7

It's too hot to paint outside in Tucson this time of year.  So this morning I set up my plein air easel in the living room & painted a pot of flowering lantana I could see from a window.  I'm pleased with this for a few reasons - a big one being that since I've changed my medication protocol, I can think more clearly in the mornings.  A bigger reason - I didn't feel the need to scrape it off.

There are many types of artists out there & everyone of them has to figure out what "success" means individually.  Before my tumor, I was very happy with the success I had achieved.  I hadn't yet reached a point with my painting where I wanted to be but I thought I could if I continued to work at it.  I had been invited to participate in an exciting invitational exhibition, I was getting accepted into some of the prestigious shows I was applying to & I was doing commissions.  I still wasn't selling a lot & I was getting just as many rejections as acceptances but I could call myself a professional artist.

While going through my slump, I've had to redefine what I thought of as success.  Success for me has nothing to do with shows & sales.  It has everything to do with whether or not I like what I'm producing.... being able to paint something & say "look what I can do".  The rejections that I've gotten during the last couple of years were followed by relief because I didn't really like the paintings anyway.  Technically speaking, my execution was okay & other people would say they liked them but there was always something I didn't like.

I like this one.  I see a few things wrong with it but I'd rather not say what they are.  But after 7 days - 3 keeps, 3 wipe offs, & 1 day off to go swimming with the grand kids - I think I'll keep going for now.

Thank you for your time & Have a great day :)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Day 5

After only 4 days, I'm understanding why I haven't been painting.  Scraped off day 2 & day 3 but decided to keep day 4 in spite of the fact that I'm not too happy with the results.  Yesterday was a BBD.  Today is much better.  Feels good to have painted yesterday in spite of how I felt - I think that's why I want to keep it....



 
We're taking the grand kids swimming today so I doubt that I will make it into my studio but I'm going to take my sketch book with me so we'll see what happens.  Hope everyone has a great day :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Daily Painting.... one day at a time

Daily painting - other people do it - so I think I might give it a try.  Today I painted a stuffed bunny my grand kids play with when they visit.  For many reasons I won't bore you with, it's been a long time since I blogged about my tumor and it's impact on my art.  One thing I've noticed in all this time, I don't paint as often as I did before my diagnosis.  I get distracted easily - not a surprise to those of you who know me.  So it's time for something different & I think daily painting might be just the thing.

I might not be able to paint everyday because I still have what's been referred to as Bad Brain Days.  In spite my BBDs, I'm entering the world of daily painting with a few caveats: it probably won't be everyday, I might use the time for experimentation, it might be a sketch & it might be something I wipe off as soon as I'm done. The point is dedicated time (about 1 hour or a little more) to paint something different & then blog about the results. 

All that said and with day 1 under my belt, I think I'm off to a pretty good start.  This little bunny is something that I might want to work into a completed painting.  I don't know how long this will last so like many other things in life, I'm going to take this one day at a time.

Thank you for your time & I hope you're having a great day!
barbaraconaway.com/

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Color Studies - Connecting Art & Science

Over two years now & it still feels like I'm recovering, although I am beginning to enjoy some of the aspects of my 'new normal'. I used to always think of my numerous interests as conflicted. The connection between my painting & choice of animal as subject was obvious.  But before the BT, I thought of  science and math as just something that was interesting & never made the connection between my art & science.

Looking for purpose in my art has brought me back to my interest in science and re-awakened my inner nerd. Especially when I think about color.

My bachelor degree in electrical engineering came about because of my interest in math and science - the opportunities to get a good job were unquestionable. Working in the field though gave me a good understanding of why a career should be based on something you love to do and I didn't love it. I took a voluntary lay off and went to work helping in my husband's veterinary practice. This gave me time to pursue my real passion - art.

original chart created on a 24" x 30" canvas
Having had the opportunity to study the physics and math of color in college gave me an understanding of color that has transcended the connection between my love of art and my love of science. While taking an oil painting class the teacher strongly suggested making color charts in order to study how the colors blend when mixed.




'Time Out', oil on linen 14x11"- using colors from the chart above
One of the most interesting discoveries I made doing these charts was that the colors used to mix flesh are the same as the colors used to mix earth. All coming from a light source that is bending, refracting and reflecting – the study of color is like playing in a candy store with a very large puzzle. The colors on a palette can be scientifically analyzed and emotionally labeled to create the warm and cool vibrations used to represent life on a two dimensional surface. Wow. I love this stuff.

Color will always dominate my paintings. When thinking about the language of art, for me, color is the voice with which I speak. No wonder I liked playing with crayons and finger paint so much as a child.

In any art, science plays a huge part in both the creation and the message 
- whether you think about it or not :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Looking for "normal"

As my recovery continues, I have found the several months since my last post to be more difficult than the first 6 months.  I've had to make some adjustments I didn't expect (like having to move my studio back home) and some of the physical issues I'm facing might turn out to be permanent.  I miss the veterinary practice management more than I had thought - the people, the interaction with clients - their stories, their horses and the challenges of running a successful business.  But as I settle into my new studio, I feel a need to find more purpose as an artist.  It's a challenge that I am looking forward to as I begin to set new goals with my art.

The language of art is fascinating to me.  I had always thought about my art as something I just do, that it was the process of creating that was my passion and I avoided questions about what it was I was trying to say.  I liked that people enjoyed my work.  I left the message of interpretation up to the viewer with the occasional relevant title of the work to say something.  But since the tumor... I've discovered that being an artist isn't that simple.  Art is different for everyone and I have discovered that for me art is a language that I want to learn to speak.  Before you speak though you have to have something to say.

I'm not there yet & I have a lot of work to do before I get there - if I ever will.  As they say.... "it's the journey, not the destination."  And my journey has definitely changed.

As I was sitting on the beach in California recently, the seagull in the study below was looking for a place to land among a large group of birds.  My urge to paint this is symbolic of how I am feeling at this stage of my recovery.  In order to do a painting of the size and scope I have in mind I will have to go much bigger and out of my comfort zone.   I guess it's just part of the new me......



study for 'Looking to Land'


Getting Back to Normal

Living your life as you wake everyday
Thoughts of where you go, what you'll do, what you'll say
Then something happens and nothing's the same
As you watch plans that you've made slowly fade

Then they open your skull
    exposing your soul
    to save a life worth living
Leaving you lost as you wonder new paths
Finding old ways gone looking back

Now awaken each day glad you're alive
Finding love in the beauty of breath
but the journey has changed and things aren't the same 
and you end the day wanting it back
"You're doing so well and you look so good"
but you know you're different inside
So just leave it alone and don't try to explain
feeling lost on this path I can't hide


The normal that was isn't there anymore
Thoughts of where I go, what I do, what I say
There's a shift in the talk I have with myself
Looking for the new normal each day



.......................Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!  I hope everyone has a great day!